“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” was Winston Churchill’s tribute to the RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain. His words struck a resonant chord with listeners then, and they continue to stir our hearts 60 years later. This year sees some significant anniversaries–the 60th anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk, the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and the 60th anniversary of the formation of the Home Guard. As an Englishwoman whose father served in the RAF during World War II, who missed the Dunkirk evacuation, but made his own way back home, I?ve grown up with an appreciation of the sacrifices made by his generation during a time when Britain?s future hung in the balance. There are so many stories of incredible courage and endurance that my appreciation has only grown over the years. My mother told of being chased by one of Hitler’s “flying bombs”. She described with wry humour how she was on her bycycle and heard the engine cut out, meaning that the bomb could either continue on or fall and explode. She leaped off her bike into a ditch. Luckily the bomb didn’t drop, but can you imagine waiting, face down in the mud, to see if you’d be blown to bits? And then to laugh about it later?
It is good to see greater public recognition being given to the ordinary men and women who battled their way through the war years. The Royal Tank Regiment is hoping to raise a memorial in London (for more information see the web site www.tank.org.uk) and Washington should soon see the National WWII Memorial (see www.wwiimemorial.com).
British Heritage is publishing Britain at War, the third title in our “Historic Landscape” series in August/September 2000. It seems like a fitting time to do this. In May 1940, Britons began preparing in earnest for invasion. From that time, and on through the dark days of the Blitz, war left its mark on Great Britain. British Heritage will take you to revisit the sites where Britain stemmed the Nazi tide and carried on to ultimate victory. We will take you behind Britain’s coastal defenses and inside the underground shelters where Churchill?s Cabinet ministers and Field Marshals thwarted Hitler?s invasion plans, and to the airfields and top-secret counter-intelligence operations that eventually took the war to the enemy.
We invite you to visit Hellfire Corner beneath Dover Castle where the Dunkirk evacuation was planned, the Cabinet War Rooms in London, and Bletchley Park where cryptanalysts cracked the “unbreakable” Enigma code. When you read our articles, give a thought to the brave men and women who found themselves in the middle of history and who helped to fashion the world we live in.
All the Best,
Gail R Huganir
Editor & Publisher